In our blog Why You Shouldn’t Buy Your Followers we talked about the reputational damage buying followers can do to your brand. In an exciting turn of the tide, Unilever recently announced that it is cracking down On Influencers Who Buy Their Followers.
What does this mean for brands who work with influencers and for influencers who work hard to build their audiences organically and are committed to their audiences?
It means good news.
As a social media marketing agency working with influencers, it is becoming increasingly more and more difficult for us to find a wide choice of influencers to present to our brands. It’s not that the fact that these influencers aren’t fantastic at what they do and could in fact, actually be the perfect fit for the brand in question. It’s the fact that they have bought a large chunk of fake followers to whom there is absolutely no value to our brands.
While many companies and even some agencies are still impressed by large numbers of followers connected to a brand, we always take a closer look at the bigger picture.
Did you know that an estimated 48 Million Instagram Users are fake? ?
But, it’s not too difficult for us to ascertain which accounts have genuine interaction and those who are paying for them.
The bottom line is that if an influencer has 50K followers and only 10% of those are genuine accounts, it completely devalues those 5K followers.
As experts in luxury PR we welcome Unilever’s move and hope that more big brands will follow suit. We also hope that brands will start to take a closer look at those influencers to whom they are closely aligning their brands. Taking a good look at the influencer accounts and the types of engagement going on.
And yes. You can even buy ‘active packages’, which offer regular likes and comments but it doesn’t take long for an experienced eye to spot these as well.
The practice of buying followers undermines the relationship that influencer has with a brand. However, we also believe that the emphasis that platforms like Instagram put on follower numbers, such as restricted swipe feature on accounts with lower than 10K followers doesn’t help with the problem either. As experts in luxury PR we know that all brands want this aspect, given the limitation of link insertion. Maybe they could set up a system so you can apply for this privilege? Like verifying your FB page, so that the number of followers you have become irrelevant or set it at a realistic amount such as 1K followers?
Surely honesty and genuine attributes should be rewarded.
As experts in luxury PR we want to see a digital landscape where the real influencer stars get to shine. They might have lower follower numbers, but their audience could eventually become the customers of our brands tomorrow or refer people to our client’s products and actually visit our client’s landing pages.
So, until bots and fake accounts start to buy like real-life consumers, we’re all for having human discussions about our brands with real human beings.